Traditional Greek Holiday Cookies

Hi friends. My mom and I had a great little girls day last week where we baked up about 450 cookies (yikes!) for the holidays. While I could probably eat them all myself, we made as many as we did because we like to give most of them away to friends and family every year. Who doesn’t love receiving tins and platters of cookies, am I right?

The two types of cookies we made are called melomakarona and kourabiedes. Melomakarona are dark brown honey cookies topped with walnuts, and kourabiedes are sugar cookies coated in… you guessed it, sugar.

I will be coming back with recipes and directions for these cookies at a later time, but for today’s post I wanted to share the “behind the scenes” of the baking process. I snapped some photos as we were going along, as I think it’s so fun to watch the process progress. Let’s start with melomakarona.

fullsizerender-15The dough should be wrapped in some foil for about 10-15 minutes to let the ingredients blend/rest before starting.fullsizerender-5You can make whatever shape you want, but melomakarona are traditionally this kind of log design. We made two different types because of two different recipes. The round version are vegan!
fullsizerender-4Poking holes with your fork not only helps the cookie bake completely, but also aids in the absorption of the honey syrup.
fullsizerender-3The syrup should be made 3-4 hours in advance and set aside.fullsizerender-10You want to soak the cookies in the syrup immediately after they come out of the oven. That’s when they absorb the most.fullsizerender-13Crush the walnuts and add cinnamon for the topping.fullsizerender-6Sprinkle on top!fullsizerender-2We had some craziness going on…
fullsizerender-11So. Stinkin’. Good.

Time for kourabiedes! The dough looks similar and you want to let it rest the way you would with the other cookies.fullsizerender-8Make about 1in balls – again, you can make these into any shape you want.fullsizerenderOnce they’re cooked, let them cool completely. The sugar will get wet and nasty if they’re the slightest bit warm.
fullsizerender-14Coat the top and bottom.fullsizerender-1Add as much sugar as you want. I love adding a lot!fullsizerender-9Gimme some oven lovin’.

Mini Apple Crumb Cheesecakes

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Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

Here I come again with another miniature food item. Soo surprising, isn’t it? What can I say? I’m small and I like small food. And I bet you’ll like this too.

Don’t let the photos fool you. I explain later why mine look the way they do, but trust me. They are delectable.

I broke the ingredient lists down into the different parts of the dessert. It’s easier than it looks. And let me tell you, the delicious aroma starts invading your kitchen from the very beginning.

This recipe yields 18 cheesecakes. Feel free to modify the quantity of ingredients if you need to make more or fewer. Let’s get started.

You’ll need:
fullsizerenderCrust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 sheets)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 7 tablespoons melted butter

fullsizerender_2Filling:

  • 16 oz softened cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Apples

fullsizerender_1Topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Step 2:
Prepare the crust. Combine graham cracker crumbles, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter until moistened. I can’t even begin to describe how good this part alone smells.
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Step 3:
Line your muffin pan and fill each cup with a heaping tablespoon of the mixture. Use the back of the spoon to pat it down. You’ll see the cup in the middle of the photo is the before and the surrounding cups are after (for your reference).
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Step 4:
Bake the crust for 5 minutes.

Step 5:
Make the topping. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. I think cutting your butter into small chunks will make this process easier. I cut mine into 1/2in cubes.
image2Step 6:
Fork the mixture until small crumbles form. You can also go in with your fingers if you are struggling with using a tool. Set this aside.

Step 7:
Filling time! Mix cream cheese and sugar on low-medium speed until just combined. Don’t do what I did and get distracted by HGTV; if you over mix the filling your cheesecakes will rise then fall when they cool. I mean, they’re just as delicious but not as adorable looking. Anyway, let’s continue.

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Step 8:
Combine the eggs (one at a time), vanilla, and sour cream. Set aside to rest while you cut the apples.image4

Step 9:
Apple time. Wash and peel your apples, then dice those babies up. I used two medium ones. However many you decide to use, make sure to cut them really small so they cook and get soft while in the oven.
image6Step 10:
Assemble!!!! Take a heaping tablespoon of filling and fill the cups. They should be about 3/4 full.
image5Step 11:
Add a layer of apple pieces.
image7Step 12:
Finally, spoon a tablespoon of topping on the top. This may get a little messy. Let it.image8

Step 13:
Bake for 23-25 minutes. Let them cool on a baking rack then refrigerate for a few hours. Serve chilled.
image11See? The middle parts fell, but maaaaaan, oh man are these so scrumptious.

And how wonderful to have such a great proportion of crust and cheesecake. That’s my favorite part.image13I hope all of my American followers have a wonderful holiday. I’m thankful for all of you! Gimme some oven lovin’.

Caramel Apple Bites

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It’s been a few days but here I am with another recipe. Took a little break to welcome my adorable baby nephew 🙂 His name is Marco James and he was born on November 14th. He’s great, as is my sister, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Caramel apples remind me a lot of autumn, so this is the perfect time to make this easy and delicious snack. I will be sharing another recipe with caramel and apples in the near future, so come back soon. Wink, wink.

This recipe is incredibly easy. All you need is two ingredients for the base (plus water), but you can add as many toppings as you’d like. Chocolate chips, coconut flakes, sprinkles, nuts, etc, are wonderful choices.

You can also decide how much caramel you want to have. You’ll see in the photo that I submerged and drizzled bites. Both are easy to do and taste yummy. It’s all about your preference.

You’ll need:
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  • Caramels (I used Kraft – you’ll need about 1 cube for every 2 bites)
  • Apples

Step 1:
Wash and peel your apples. You can use whatever kind of apple you want.
fullsizerender_1Step 2:
Using a melon peeler, scoop out your bites. I was able to get about 8 pieces per apple, but that number depends entirely on how big your apples are.
fullsizerender_2Step 3:
Melt the caramel squares. Add about 1 teaspoon of water for every 5-6 squares you have in your saucepan. This will prevent the caramel from burning and make the texture easy to work with.
fullsizerender_3fullsizerender_4Step 4:
Use the point of a knife or 1-2 prongs of a fork to hold each bite. Dip and set on a piece of wax paper to cool. If you are adding toppings, do this immediately before the caramel hardens.
*Note – be sure to pat the bites totally dry before dipping them in the caramel so it doesn’t just slide off!
image1I guess you could bypass most of this process by just buying this guy, but where’s the fun in that? Try this out and, as always, gimme some oven lovin’.

FAVOR-EATS: Chocolate Wooden Spoons

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I mentioned a few posts ago how I wanted to start a series that was all about goodies that could be used as favors for parties, events, etc. I asked some family and friends for help for a clever name and finally settled on this one: favor-eats. I liked it for three reasons: 1. It’s adorable. Duh. 2. It describes exactly what the products are; favors that you can eat. 3. It sounds like “favorites” with a little accent thrown in, and how can you not love that?

To start this series, I thought I’d lay out one of the newest additions to my etsy shop. Yes,  I also have an etsy shop! I’ve never talked about it on here because this is food and that is… well, not. But since I put something edible on there, it’s time my two worlds come together. I make everything myself and have been doing so for a few years now. Check it out! If you want to buy something you like, use the code “ovenlovin” at checkout to receive 15% off. It’s the least I can do for having such wonderful followers on here.

Anyway, back to the spoons. Since we’re heading into the colder months, I will start transitioning from my iced lattes to hot ones. These are perfect for adding that something extra to your hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. If you choose to give them as favors or holiday gifts, you can customize them with sprinkles that match your event, chocolate flavor/color that goes with your theme, or ribbons that tie in to your special occasion (Ha… Tie. Ribbon. Get it?). For the holidays, use crushed peppermints! For Christmas, use red and green sprinkles! For a winter wedding, use sparkling white sugar crystals! The options are endless!

You’ll also notice that some of my spoons are stamped. This is another easy way to customize them for your event. You can use different sayings, designs, and ink colors. You can also use individual letter stamps to create your own words or just press your initials.

Don’t forget: you don’t have to do anything extra! You can just have the chocolate on the unstamped spoon and it’ll get the job done. Let’s get started.

You’ll need:
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  • Wooden spoons
  • Meltable chocolate

Step 1:
You guessed it. Melt that chocolate. I usually put a block in a small glass bowl and microwave it for 30 second intervals, mixing it with a spoon until it’s soft and melted. You can also use a double boiler.

Step 2:
Fill the spoon with the melted chocolate. Set it aside to cool.
image4Step 3:
Once the chocolate has hardened, dip the entire spoon head into the melted chocolate. This produces another layer in the front while also coating the back. Smooth the edges if you fee you need to.
If you are using a topping like sprinkles, put a few on now while the chocolate is still melted. Then lay the spoon on some wax paper (if you don’t mind having a flattened back) or on something elevated so nothing is touching the chocolate. I had them lined up around my sink with the heads of the spoons hanging over the edge. Get creative! Allow them to cool and harden completely.
image5If you are using a topping like a different flavor of chocolate or caramel, do so after the spoon has cooled. This will make sure the flavors don’t get mixed together and smeared. fullsizerender_1Note, if you choose to stamp your spoons, I recommend you do this before putting any chocolate on them. You can still do it afterward, but it makes your life easier if you don’t.image1

Gimme some oven lovin’.

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

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The first time I made these guys was only a couple of months ago. We had just moved and we were hosting our new neighbors for dinner. I didn’t have much time before they were scheduled to come over, so I was glad I found this recipe that only needed 15 minutes for both prep and cook time.

Feel free to use your own cornbread recipe if you have one. I like the box for its convenience and speed. If you do have your own, please share in the comment section! I’d love to try it out.

You’ll need:
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  • Cornbread/muffin mix (and its needed ingredients)
  • 4 hot dogs

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2:
Prepare the cornbread mix as instructed. I first whisked the egg then added the milk to form the batter.fullsizerender_1fullsizerender_3fullsizerender_4

Step 3:
While the mixture is setting, cut each hot dog into 5 equal pieces. You should have 20 pieces in all.image1image2Step 4:
Spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray, then fill each cup with batter about 2/3 of the way.
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Step 5:
Insert one hot dog piece into the middle of each cup, pressing it down until the mixture surrounds it.image4

Step 6:
Bake for 10 minutes.
image5Remove them from the pan to cool. I suggest you eat them warm, but let’s be serious. These little guys are delicious at any temperature. You can serve them with ketchup, mustard, or nothing at all.
image6Eat up, buttercup, and gimme some oven lovin’.

No Bake Cookie Dough Bombs

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We all love bite size desserts, don’t we? Especially when they’re coated in chocolate. Give. Me. All. Of. Them. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of eating raw dough by the spoonfuls. Cookie dough, brownie batter; you name it, I lick it. The good thing about this recipe is the lack of egg, making it safe to eat! You’re welcome!

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 cup of mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Meltable chocolate coating

Step 1:
In a mixer, blend the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy.
fullsizerender_1Step 2:
Add the vanilla and milk and continue beating.
fullsizerender_3Step 3:
Mix the salt and flour and pour into the mixer, one cup at a time. Be sure to scrape the edges in between to really get everything blended.
fullsizerender_4Step 4:
Fold in the chocolate chips.
image1Step 5:
Freeze the mixture for about 20-30 minutes. I put mine in a separate container to keep the remaining dough frozen until I’m ready to use it again.
image3Step 6:
After the mixture has stiffened a bit in the freezer, use a melon baller or spoon to scoop out dough, and roll between your palms to create balls. I make them about 1in but you can make them bigger if your bites aren’t as small as mine.
image4Step 7:
Freeze again! This step will really help make the balls stay in their shape when dipped into the chocolate, so put them back in for another 10-15 minutes.
image5Step 8:
Melt your chocolate. Then roll each ball to coat completely. Let it harden on a piece of wax paper.image8
While the chocolate is still melted, you can top each “bomb” with sprinkles, chocolate chips, crushed nuts, shredded coconut, etc. Or you can just leave them as they are.

Take a bite! And gimme some oven lovin’.

Slow Cooked Beef and Potatoes

image6Happy November, my friends. This year has definitely flown, as it seems all do as you get older. Though the weather in NJ hasn’t been incredibly cold yet, it is slowly getting to be the time we start eating more soups, stews, and other warm dishes. Today’s recipe is a great “keep me warm” meal.

I got to use my new slow cooker for this. Remember when I mentioned how I was looking forward to my surprise bridal shower so I could get all of my new kitchen goodies? Well, it happened! As a matter of fact, it was just a few days after I made that post! It was beautiful and I’m so excited for all of our gifts. Let’s get started.

You’ll need:
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  • 1-1.5lbs beef cubes
  • 1 bag yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Step 1:
Begin by slicing your onion into rings. I only used 1 but you can of course use more if you like them. If you don’t have baby carrots, slice them into 1-1.5in pieces now too.fullsizerender_1Step 2:
Cut your potatoes in half. These should also be around 1-1.5in each, so slice them up more if your potatoes are bigger than mine. fullsizerender_2Step 3:
It’s slow cooker time. Put about half of your onions on the bottom of the crockpot.
fullsizerender-copyStep 4:
Layer your beef cubes on top. I always wash the meat before I cook it, so if you do too then just make sure you pat them dry before putting them in the pot. Sprinkle your salt and pepper on top.
fullsizerender_3Step 5:
Add the potatoes, carrots, and remaining onions. Top with the other spices and any other ones you enjoy. I added a sprinkle of Old Bay 🙂image1Step 6:
Pour the wine over the top. It will settle onto the bottom but this at least coats the exposed pieces.
image2Step 7:
Cook on high for about 4 hours. If you have the time, you can cook it on low for about 7 hours. Everything should become soft and break apart with a fork.
image4image5This is a very filling and delicious meal. I hope you enjoy it! Gimme some oven lovin’.

 

Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Biscuits

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It’s a long title, but boy, OH BOY, is it worth it. If you have a Facebook account and do not follow “Tasty” then you are doing yourself a big disservice. They post some of the most delicious looking foods and recipes I’ve ever seen. I saw this post a few weeks ago and knew I had to try it. Though it’s not the same exact recipe (they added fresh parsley – yuck), it’s still scrumptious.

I’m also excited to share that I recently partnered with The Recipe Hunter. If you’re looking to see some of my featured recipes along with other chefs’ posts in one convenient location, just click on the link! Maybe you’ll see this recipe on there some day. Let’s get started.

You’ll need:
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  • 1 can of biscuits
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • About 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2:
Cut each biscuit into 4 equal pieces.
fullsizerender_1Step 3:
Melt the butter (about 15-20 seconds in the microwave), then add the garlic powder and cheese.fullsizerender_2Step 4:
Fold the biscuit pieces in the butter mixture.
fullsizerender_4Step 5:
Spray a muffin tin and put 3 coated biscuit pieces in each cup. Note – your last cup will only have 2 pieces!
image1Step 6:
Bake for 11-15 minutes. The amount of time will depend on the kind of biscuits you bought. Follow the directions they provide on the tube, or just watch and wait until the tops become fluffy and golden.
image3Try it out, visit the link above, and most importantly, gimme some oven lovin’.

Rolo Pretzel Bites

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I figured it was about time I made a dessert again. I haven’t made any in so long and my pantry needs an update. I found a couple (literally) things lying around and put them together for this really easy 2 ingredient snack that combines all of my favorite things: salty pretzels, sweet chocolate, and gooey caramel. Brian doesn’t usually like desserts (don’t even get me started!), so when he tried these and said they were delicious, I knew it was worth sharing.

You’ll need:
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  • 24 pretzel snaps
  • 12 Rolo candies

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place half of your pretzels. You can make more or fewer, but just remember that you need double the amount of pretzels in all.
fullsizerender_1Step 3:
Put one unwrapped Rolo chocolate in the middle of each pretzel. fullsizerender_2Step 4:
Bake for about 3-5 minutes. You want the chocolate to be tender without it actually melting.fullsizerenderStep 5:
Place one pretzel on top of each chocolate and gently squish it down. Be careful! It may ooze hot caramel.fullsizerender-1

If you don’t want to top it off with a second pretzel, you can always be creative and add other ingredients instead. I had some peanut M&Ms so I added a couple of those. Pecans are also a good idea!fullsizerender_4

It doesn’t get much easier than this. Gimme some oven lovin’.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

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If I could pick one thing to eat every single week, it would definitely be buffalo chicken. I’m not sure why, especially since I only got into spicy-ish food in the last couple of years. Yet, for some reason, it’s my go-to in most restaurant outings, and one of my favorite things to make at home.

Today’s recipe involves a slow cooker. I bought a cheap little thing a long time ago, and while it gets the job done, I can’t wait until we get the gem we added to our wedding registry. I’m not sure when my surprise bridal shower is, but I sure do hope it’s soon so we can get all of our new goodies!

As always, this recipe is very customizable. I only put chicken and cheese, but you can easily add more ingredients. You can also make them with any kind of tortilla you wish: flour, corn, wheat, multigrain, gluten free, etc.

You’ll need:
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  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce (my favorite is Frank’s)
  • Shredded taco or Mexican blend cheese
  • Tortillas
  • Slow cooker

Step 1:
Slow cook your chicken with the sauce! Since my cheap little guy doesn’t have settings, I just put the chicken in and wait a while. If you have a regular cooker, set it for low and cook the chicken for about 3-4 hours (until it’s soft enough to shred with a fork).
Note – if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can just buy rotisserie chicken and shred that instead. Then put it in a bowl or bag and add the sauce to coat.
img_6614Step 2:
Shred the chicken and cook it for another 30 minutes in the sauce. This is where the chicken really soaks in the juice.
fullsizerender_1fullsizerender_3Step 3:
Here comes the assembly. Start with toasting one side of your tortilla for about 10-15 seconds on low-medium (mostly low) heat.
fullsizerender_2Step 4:
Flip the tortilla to toast the other side. At this time, add your cheese. The amount is purely based on preference. I like an even proportion of cheese and chicken, whereas my fiancé likes less cheese. You decide. I usually put about 1/4 cup for mine.
image1Step 5:
Add the chicken on one half of the tortilla. Again, as much or as little as you want. Flip the other half over to make a semi-circle.
image2Step 6:
Toast both sides. I like the tortillas to be a tad bit crispy, so I make sure I press down and flip it around a couple of times until it starts browning. If you decide to do this, make sure to put your spatula on the open side and flip upward so the chicken doesn’t go flying out. Doing this may still cause some stragglers, but that’s okay.
image3image4Serve with your choice of dipping. I eat mine with a mixture of ranch and Frank’s red hot sauce. Bleu cheese, sour cream, and alone are also popular choices.
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I love making a big batch of chicken and eating it for several meals. Though I mostly make quesadillas, it also tastes good with mashed potatoes or rice. Try it! And gimme some oven lovin’.